Open letter written by the Principal of the Miller Technology High school in response to a statement made by the principal of Kings Grammar School.

This is an open letter written by the Principal of the Miller Technology High school in response to A statement made by the principal of Kings Grammar School.

Miller Technology High School

National Leading School – Innovative Schools Program

Microsoft® Partners in Learning

Dear Headmaster,

I read some weeks back your statement in the Sunday Telegraph about education funding cuts. In your piece you stated that the only cuts occurring to public schools were to “bloated bureaucracies”.

While I’m sure you are an expert in elite schools that provide an exclusive education for wealthy families, your ignorance of the realities of public schools is concerning. Making public commentary from positions of influence carries significant responsibility. Perhaps I can set you straight on a few points.

The “bloated bureaucracies” you speak of include the Curriculum Unit, the Equity Unit and Student Services. The Curriculum Unit and the Equity Unit will not exist in 2013. Student Services are facing significant funding cuts and loss of staff.

We are the largest education system in Australia and while your school may be able to employ specialist curriculum and welfare consultants, state schools do not have that luxury. I would estimate that you would collect millions of dollars in school fees from your community. Last year I collected $840 in fees from the entire school community.

Let me tell you about my school. I am Principal of Miller Technology High School in the south west of Sydney.

Miller is an extremely poor community. 50% of my students are refugees, mainly from Iraq. Most are Mandaeans who have been tortured, threatened and assaulted in their home country. Our students have witnessed murder, rape, lethal explosions and extreme violence. Their educations have been severely disrupted. Most suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome. One set of Afghani female twins I enrolled had never been to a school in their lives. The day they entered my school neither spoke any English and they were illiterate in their first language. One of those girls is sitting the HSC this year. Her results will be in our school results and they will appear on the MySchool website. She might get 5% in each exam but her HSC is an enormous achievement for her. How do we measure that?

The “local area” students come from a disadvantaged community. I enrolled a student yesterday that is a typical mid-year enrolment. I’ll call her B. B is in Year 7. She has already been to 3 high schools. Her father has just got out of gaol. He has taken custody of his daughter because her mother is in worse shape than he is. He is bipolar and unemployable. B is ADHD and needs significant support from Student Services to engage in education.

I have no full time counsellors in my school. I share my counsellors with two other schools. Student Services staff support students with significant educational and welfare needs. They are another of your “bloated bureaucracies” facing massive cuts and “realignment”.

The Equity Unit support refugee students and students who are severely disadvantaged.

These units and their staff are vital to schools doing the heavy lifting with the neediest in our community.

Your statement in the Telegraph did harm sir. Your argument, underpinned by ignorance or disregard, will help the government justify taking funds away from State schools. These funds are an investment in our whole society, not just the poor and disadvantaged – but all families. If I fail in my role of educating and supporting these wonderful young people, we all lose.

Perhaps you might like to do some learning yourself. I would recommend this article to you.

Who’s afraid of the ‘E’ word?
https://www.australianbookreview.com.au/feature-articles/1228-346-features-collis

Regards,
Bruce Axam
Principal

Miller Technology High School

National Leading School – Innovative Schools Program

Microsoft® Partners in Learning